GM recalls Chevrolet Bolt EVs after fire risk reports

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Chevrolet Bolt Image
The Chevrolet Bolt EV that has been recalled by GM

After five reported fires and two minor injuries, American automobile maker General Motors has decided to recall 68,677 electric cars worldwide that pose a fire risk.

The recall is for the 2017-19 year model Chevrolet Bolt EVs with high voltage batteries manufactured at the South Korean facility of LG Chem, the chemical business unit of LG.

Last month, after reports of three bolts catching fire, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an agency of the US federal government, launched a preliminary investigation into the Bolt EVs.

GM said that it is when charged to maximum, or almost full capacity, that the vehicles pose a fire risk. The US-based automaker said it had developed software that would restrict the charging of vehicles to 90% to mitigate the risk, while they decide the effective final repair.

“We’re working together around the clock to deploy a final remedy as soon as possible after the first of the year,” Jesse Ortega, executive chief engineer for the Chevrolet Bolt EV, said.

LG Chem said in a statement; “We will cooperate with GM and sincerely proceed with an investigation to identify the exact cause of fire.”

Remain cautious

Meanwhile, NHTSA said Bolt owners “should park their cars outside and away from homes until their vehicles have been repaired, due to a new recall for the risk of fire.”

In a previous incident in Belmont City in the US, which happened in March 2019, smoke inhalation injuries were reported. A Bolt caught fire in the driveway, and during a three-hour fire requiring professional cleaning, the owner said heavy fumes permeated their house. The owners also claimed that contact with the smoke caused headaches.

Starting next week, dealerships will upgrade the vehicle’s battery software.

Other electric vehicles have also had to recall cars due to similar fire risks.

South Korea-based Hyundai Motor issued a recall last month for nearly 77,000 Kona EVs worldwide, warning that potential battery cell defects increased the risk of a short circuit or fire. The affected vehicles in Hyundai’s recall also used LG Chem battery cells, produced in the supplier’s factory in China.

LG Chem denied any defects in the cell but said it is working with Hyundai.